Choosing the correct skincare is a daunting task. With all the information being thrown at us in magazines, TV commercials, and department stores, it’s no wonder we end up feeling frustrated when trying to choose the correct skincare products. I consider myself an expert. I have been in the skincare business for more than 15 years, have helped create skincare lines, and have spent years studying and understanding the chemical properties that affect the skin, but even with all of my knowledge and background, I still sometimes want to pull my hair out. Mostly because the advertisements that companies put forth in skincare products are very misleading.
Many things bother me about advertising for skincare, and I believe there should be stricter regulation on how companies advertise their product. To begin, it’s not fair to promise an anti-aging result from the product when the face of that product is a 25-year-old woman. Most 25-year-old women that I know are not using anti-aging skincare, nor do they need to – unless of course they are using it as a preventative measure. However, most of us walking through a department store are stopped by beautiful ads of celebrities and young women that promise gorgeous, radiant, beautiful, youthful skin, if only you will spend $100 on one cream. It’s an impossible goal for one cream to promise that type of result.
I believe the average woman is unaware of how much airbrushing and post-production work is done on the advertising images we see, but as everyday, modern women, we are expected to look flawless like the 25-year-old woman in the anti-aging ad, or the celebrity who has been airbrushed beyond recognition to sell you a product that you’ll probably be disappointed with. That’s the hard fact.
When I see commercials or ads about reversing the signs of aging, all from a cream you can buy at your local drugstore, all I can do is laugh, shake my head, and feel sorry for all the people who invest their money in something that will leave them looking the exact same way. The truth about skincare is that if you are not buying it from a doctor’s office, and it is not a medical grade skin care product, you might as well not use it.
It’s astonishing to me how expensive many department store skincare products are. In fact, I am amazed that women actually go to high-end department stores and purchase a $300 eye cream. I am telling you right now that there is nothing in that eye cream that warrants a $300 price tag. The truth is that if you are selling a skincare product in a department store or drugstore, the FDA only allows the active ingredients in those products to be at a certain strength. So, for example, if you are looking for vitamin C cream, whether you spend $300 or $30 on an over-the-counter product, the amount of vitamin C that’s actually in those products is limited to the FDA limit.
For most skincare to be effective, it requires a more concentrated level of the active ingredients, which can only be distributed by a physician. Now, here’s the beauty of it: I’ve been selling skincare and making skincare for 15 years, and most of the skincare that I sell, which is medical grade, is far less expensive than anything found in a department store. It also yields the results that you are actually looking for in your skincare! It’s not as expensive because I’m not spending millions of dollars on advertising, trying to lure women into thinking that a bottle of my newest serum is going to turn back the clock 15 years.
As I say to each one of my clients, if you are not using medical grade skin care, you’re not doing your skin any favors. If you want to see results, you have to use products that have a concentrated level of the active ingredients that will actually show a result. Don’t fall for the airbrushed celebrity or the 25-year-old selling you an anti-aging product, and please do not buy your skincare off a TV infomercial. You will only find yourself disappointed and out some serious cash.
Now let’s discuss what you should be using. Anyone over 20 years old needs three essential skincare products. It goes without saying that you should not be using a bar soap on your face, and if you are, throw it out. Healthy skin is slightly acidic, with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. This acidic border to our skin protects it from bacteria and microorganisms. The problem is, most bar soaps have a pH closer to 10, and this means they are more basic. Very basic or very alkaline levels allow bacteria and microorganisms to come into the skin, which means when your skin is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Additionally, bar soaps dry out your skin, causing flaking and dryness, and your skin will often create more oil to compensate for the dryness, which leads to more breakouts, whiteheads and blackheads. I personally like gentle cleansers. Whether you choose something foaming or more milky is up to you. Please, just make sure it is medical grade and is removing all your makeup.
In addition to your gentle cleanser, the three essential products for your skincare are: a retinol, or vitamin A cream; an antioxidant cream; and a sunscreen. These three products are essential for the prevention of aging, as well as the reversal of the effects of aging, sun damage and wrinkles.
Let’s start with the retinol. Retinol creams are vitamin A topical preparations, used to treat a variety of skin issues. A retinol has the ability to unclog pores, even out skin discolorations, restore vibrancy to the complexion, reduce oiliness, and improve the appearance of fine wrinkles. Therefore everyone needs vitamin A cream.
One note of caution. If you are using a retinol cream that is making your skin very dry and very red, then that preparation is too strong for you. In my office, I have formulated two different retinol creams to accommodate different types of skin. At first, I often recommend to my clients that they use their retinol every other night and then move to every night. The preparation that I make in my office is also full of moisturizing agents, skin calming agents and skin plumping agents, therefore, I am both turning my skin over while I sleep and adding moisture that will leave my skin beautiful in the morning.
Retinol and different retinoid creams have gained popularity over the years and have found their way into foundations, lipsticks, sunscreens, and cleansers. Please make sure you avoid all of these products, because retinol products should only be used at night. During the day, using retinols will actually have the opposite effect and can make skin age faster, because it leaves you very photosensitive. Regardless of the amount of SPF protection, having a retinol on your face during the day will lead to a worsening effect, so avoid it. Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, do not use a retinol cream.
Again, vitamin A creams are the whole package: they reduce wrinkles, they fade sunspots, they build collagen, they fight acne, and they are a clinically proven anti-aging product. The trick is to use a retinol cream all over your face, not just a spot treatment. You want to apply a small amount – roughly the size of a pea. Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells at night while you are sleeping, so products that exfoliate will help the process along, and this is also why you use a retinol cream at night. Retinol products work best on naked sleeping skin, and of course, as we discussed earlier, retinol should never be used during the day.
The second product every person should use on their face is an antioxidant cream. Since we are putting our retinol on at night, it makes sense that your antioxidants, or vitamin C cream, should be used during the day. Think of when you would drink your orange juice and get your vitamin C: in the morning. It’s the same with your antioxidant cream for your face. At this time of day, the skin is in a protective mode, and additionally, antioxidants will prolong and enhance the use of your sunscreen, making it imperative to apply your antioxidants in the morning.
So now that we know when to use antioxidant cream, I need to tell you why you should use it. Antioxidants are essential in fighting the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are all around us. They can impact you whenever you are exposed to any type of harmful irritant, such as pollutants, cigarette smoke, and radiation. These irritants and harmful pollutants cause inflammation in the body and skin. Vitamin C antioxidant creams actually reduce the amount of free radical damage that we encounter.
Antioxidants are also an incredible benefit in that they increase collagen production. And who doesn’t want more collagen production? Free radicals love to break down collagen proteins in the body. As we know, collagen is what’s responsible for helping the skin maintain its elasticity and strength, not to mention collagen makes our skin look younger. So, by using an antioxidant cream, it actually neutralizes the free radical damage and allows collagen production to continue, which is essential for beautiful skin.
Antioxidants also help to reduce age spots. We all have them, even those of us who still call them freckles – you know who you are. If you’d like to see a reduction in your “freckles,” a.k.a. sunspots, then get on that antioxidant cream right away. Sunspots occur when sun exposure speeds up melanin production in the body, and the melanin starts to clump together. Vitamin C helps reduce the melanin pigmentation on the age spot, which can lighten its appearance to some degree, improving the overall skin color and tone.
Another benefit to antioxidants is that they will minimize fine lines and wrinkles. While vitamin C products don’t reverse damage, like the vitamin A retinol products do, they do help prevent damage. Prevention is key, regardless of what decade of life you are in, and it is never too late to start.
I hope by now you appreciate that the benefits of using an antioxidant cream are numerous and, if you are over the age of 20, you start to use one. By the way, unlike retinols, these creams are safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding.
The third and most important of all of skin care products is sunscreen. I cannot say it enough. I could write an entire book dedicated to the benefits of sunscreen. We all know how important it is, and yet we either don’t use it at all, or we don’t use it properly. Sunscreen should be used rain or shine, clouds or sun, snow or rain, while working inside or outside. It doesn’t matter. Every single day that you are breathing, you must put sunscreen on your face, neck and chest if you want to prevent aging.
Even a few moments of sun exposure each day without the proper protection is aging you, increasing your risk of skin cancer, breaking down collagen, and making you look old. If you want to look old, then don’t use your sunscreen, but if you want to look young and you want to stay young looking, use it. If you want to prevent brown spots, discoloration, the breakdown of collagen, free radical damage, wrinkles, and cancer, then put it on every morning as if your life depends on it, and that’s just when you’re having a regular day. If you are anywhere near the sun or sitting at a beach, you need to use about a shot glass full of sunscreen on your face and body at least every two hours and definitely if you’ve been in the water or sweating a lot.
People sometimes think that you’ll walk around looking pasty white because you put sunscreen on. This is not the case. You will still get color, but you will not burn as easily because UVA and UVB rays from the sun will not be absorbed into your skin as quickly, preventing aging and disease.
Even if you are running a ten minute errand, you need sunscreen on your face, as well as your ears, your neck, and on your chest. When applying sunscreen, make sure it goes all the way up into your hairline, as doctors are finding an increase in skin cancers in the hairline, as well as on the ears.
Makeup with sunscreen is not the same as sunscreen. If your makeup or foundation says it has an SPF of 20, you essentially need to use the entire bottle in order to get that SPF of 20, so ignore the SPF of your makeup. You need a separate sunscreen with an SPF of 35 or greater, and please buy one from a doctor’s office, so that the concentration of important ingredients, such as parasol or zinc oxide, are strong enough to do their job.
I can’t stop you from going into the sun. I can’t stop you from going into a tanning bed, even though one in 20 new melanomas found are from tanning beds, but I can urge you to properly protect yourself when you are out walking around the earth. Please, if you take nothing else from this book, make sure that you are using sunscreen.